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新北美自由贸易协定(USMCA)关于国际投资争端解决机制的新变化

更新时间:2018-10-10 10:47:39  临时仲裁 编辑:lianluobu  点击次数:240次

USMCA关于国际投资争端解决机制的新变化


2018年9月30日,美国、墨西哥和加拿大达成美国-墨西哥-加拿大协议(USMCA)协议,取代北美自由贸易协定(NAFTA)。各方为达成这一协议进行了数月的谈判。

必须指出,美国-墨西哥-加拿大协议仍需得到所有缔约方的批准。在批准之前,北美自由贸易协定的现行规则和条例仍然有效。这意味着现有法律框架并没有立即改变。

一旦生效,美国-墨西哥-加拿大协议最主要的变化之一是它将取代并显著改变原北美自由贸易协定第11章“各方之间的投资者-国家争端解决(ISDS)“。该协议基本上删除了加拿大和美国之间的ISDS,限制了墨西哥和美国之间的ISDS,并将加拿大和墨西哥之间纠纷置于“跨太平洋伙伴关系全面和进步协定”(CPTPP)中的ISDS系统。

ISDS的主要目标之一是为 一国国民和公司在另一国境内的外国投资提供保护,以便创造更可预测和更有利的投资环境。

USMCA中限制ISDS反映了一种努力趋势,即尽量减少投资者就据称的不法行为(如征收)向政府寻求补救的能力。这种遏制ISDS的努力来自于从澳大利亚到委内瑞拉等多个国家的不同政治观点的政治家。


加拿大和美国之间的ISDS

USMCA生效后,在美国的加拿大投资者和在加拿大的美国投资者将无法对其投资的缔约国提起仲裁程序。相反,如果其中一个缔约国侵犯了“美国移民法”第14章规定的投资者的实质性权利(即没收其投资),投资者将不得不依赖于向东道国(即投资所在地)的国家法院提出索赔。因此,就任何宣称的违反第14章的行为,投资者必须依靠东道国的国家法院寻求救济。

根据附件14-C规定,在北美自由贸易协定仍然有效的情况下设立或获得的投资(“遗留投资”)的索赔将在北美自由贸易协定终止后三年内继续有效。这意味着,北美自由贸易协定终止之前在另一个国家投资的美国或加拿大投资者(这可能是几个月或几年后)将有权在北美自由贸易协定终止后三年内寻求北美自由贸易协定的保护(包括仲裁权)。这里的关键是,投资必须在北美自由贸易协定终止之前进行。一旦北美自由贸易协定终止,任何在该日期之后进行的投资-即使是在三年的日落期-都不会受到仲裁的影响。

尽管“日落条款”比大多数其他投资条约的日落条款或存续条款都要短,三年的日落条款在北美自由贸易协定的“诉讼时效”中是有意义的,因为它防止在违法行为发生三年之后提出索赔。换句话说,在北美自由贸易协定终止三年多之后发生的任何宣称的错误在任何情况下都不可能被纳入北美自由贸易协定管辖。

尽管USMCA第14章对美国和加拿大投资者来说是一个倒退,但加拿大可能会将这一新协议视为一场胜利。根据“北美自由贸易协定”第11章,加拿大被起诉了41次,超过了墨西哥或美国。尽管根据北美自由贸易协定第11章,美国从未输过官司,但加拿大输了8场,赢了9场。据估计,加拿大已根据“北美自由贸易协定”支付了2.19亿美元的损害赔偿和解,并花费了9 500万美元无法收回的法律费用。


墨西哥和美国之间的ISDS

根据USMCA的附件14-C、14-D和14-E规定,在墨西哥的美国投资者和在美国的墨西哥投资者仍然可以就其投资进行仲裁。

与加拿大和美国一样,墨西哥和美国投资者仍可在北美自由贸易协定终止后的三年内提起与合法投资有关的仲裁。对于三年后提出的索赔,墨西哥和美国就仲裁事项作出了条件和限制,将通常的投资的申请人和政府合同当事方的申请人进行区别对待。

通常投资的申请人只能对违反第14.4条(国民待遇)、第14.5条(最惠国待遇)和第14.8条(征收,不包括间接征收)的措施提起仲裁。

此外,而且重要的是,申请人必须在东道国法院提起国内诉讼,然后才能将其索赔提交仲裁。只有在“最后诉诸被申请人的法院或在启动国内法院诉讼后已过了30个月”的情况下,才能开始仲裁。另一个值得注意的补充是投资相关索赔的四年时效。这意味着投资者可能必须迅速向法院提出索赔,以确保他们有时间在30个月的诉讼期后提出仲裁请求。

作为政府合同当事方的申请人享有更广泛仲裁管辖范围和直接诉诸仲裁的途径(在六个月的冷却期之后)。可以对违反整个第14章的措施提起仲裁。根据涉案政府合同提出的索赔将受三年时效的限制。

USMCA将政府合同定义为“[墨西哥或美国]的国家当局与[墨西哥或美国]的涵盖投资或投资者之间的书面协议,涵盖投资或投资者依赖于书面协议本身之外建立或获得的涵盖投资,该协议赋予被涵盖投资或有涵盖部门的投资者权利”。

就一缔约方而言,涵盖投资(covered investment)是指在本协定生效之日存在的另一缔约方投资者在其境内的既有投资,或在此之后建立、获得或扩大的投资。


加拿大和墨西哥之间的ISDS

USMCA第14章没有对在墨西哥的加拿大投资者和在加拿大的墨西哥投资者通过仲裁提出索赔的任何规定。在后北美自由贸易协定(NAFTA)时代,这些投资者必须根据尚未生效的CPTPP关于投资者国家争端解决条款进行索赔。CPTPP(又称TPP-II)参考了跨太平洋伙伴关系(Trans-Pacific Partnership,简称TPP),该伙伴关系在2017年初美国撤出后从未生效。CPTPP规定的ISDS条款比“北美自由贸易协定”第11章的规定范围更窄,对投资者规定了更高的举证责任,以确定违反投资义务的行为,并给予政府更多的回旋余地以执行公共福利措施,而不引起征收索赔。

11国于2018年3月签署了CPTPP。该协定将在至少一半签署国批准后60天生效。墨西哥是第一个批准该协定的国家,其次是日本和新加坡。加拿大尚未批准该协定。


USMCA的生效

USMCA尚未签署,但预计将于今年晚些时候签署。USMCA仍需接受法律审查,以确保准确性、确定性和一致性。缔约国仍需完成其国内批准程序和批准所需的其他内部程序。在所有缔约方通知其他缔约方批准工作已经完成后,USMCA将于最后一次通知后第三个月的第一天生效。

在USMCA生效之前,这可能需要几个月或几年的时间,“北美自由贸易协定”的规定(包括ISDS条款)将继续有效,即使不是不可能,也不太可能在中期国会选举之前在美国获得批准。因此,预计新的美国国会将考虑批准USMCA。无论如何,USMCA生效的时间和可能性是不确定的。

USMCA文本请见:https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/united-states-mexico-canada-agreement/united-states-mexico


【英文原文】

The New NAFTA-- the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Brings Future Changes to ISDS

On September 30, 2018, the United States, Mexico and Canada (the Parties) reached an agreement to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The new agreement is called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  As has been widely reported, the Parties conducted many months of negotiations to reach this agreement.

It is important to note that the USMCA still has to be ratified by all the Parties.  Until this ratification has taken place, the current NAFTA rules and regulations remain in place. This means that there is no immediate change to existing legal structure in place.

One of the biggest changes in the USMCA is that it will displace (once it enters into force) and significantly alter the former NAFTA Chapter 11 – the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system between the Parties. The USMCA essentially erases ISDS as between Canada and the US, curbs ISDS as between Mexico and the US, and leaves Canada and Mexico to the ISDS system in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

One of the principal goals of ISDS is to provide protections for foreign investment by nationals and companies of one state in the territory of another state, in order to create a more predictable and possibly more favourable investment climate.

The curbing of ISDS in the USMCA reflects a larger trend of efforts to minimize investors’ ability to seek redress against governments for allegedly wrongful acts, such as expropriation.  This effort to curb ISDS has come from politicians of many different political views in a wide range of countries, from Australia to Venezuela.[1]


ISDS between Canada and the US

After the USMCA enters into force, Canadian investors in the US and US investors in Canada will not be able to commence neutral arbitration proceedings against the state Parties in which they have invested. Instead, if one of the state Parties has breached a substantive right of the investor under Chapter 14 of the USMCA (i.e., expropriated its investment) the investor will have to rely on bringing a claim in the national courts of the host state (i.e., where the investment was made).[2]  The investors will therefore have to rely on the national courts host state to remedy any alleged violations of Chapter 14.

Under Annex 14-C, claims with respect to investments established or acquired while NAFTA is still in effect (“legacy investments”) will remain in place until three years after the termination of NAFTA. This means that US or Canadian investors who have invested in the other state prior to the termination of NAFTA (which could be months or years away) will be entitled to the protections of NAFTA (including the right to arbitration) for three years following its termination.  The key here is that the investment would have to be made prior to the termination of NAFTA.  Once NAFTA is terminated, any investments made after that date – even if made in the three year sunset period – will not be susceptible to arbitration.

Although this “sunset clause” is notably shorter than most other investment treaty sunset or survival clauses,[3] the three-year sunset provision makes sense in light NAFTA’s “statute of limitations,” which prevents claims from being brought more than three-years after the offending act.  In other words, any alleged wrongs that occurred more than three-years after the termination of NAFTA could not be brought under NAFTA in any event.

While the USMCA Chapter 14 is a step backwards for American and Canadian investors, Canada will likely see this new deal as a win. Canada has been sued 41 times under NAFTA Chapter 11, more than Mexico or the US. While the US has never lost a case under NAFTA Chapter 11, Canada has lost eight and won nine. It is estimated that Canada has paid out more than $219 million in damages and settlements under NAFTA and has spent $95 million in unrecoverable legal costs.[4]


ISDS between Mexico and the US

Under Annexes 14-C, 14-D and 14-E of the USMCA, US investors in Mexico and Mexican investors in the US can still commence arbitrations against the state in which they invested.

As with Canada and the US, Mexican and US investors may still file arbitration claims related to legacy investments within three years after the termination of NAFTA. For claims filed after the three-year period, Mexico and the US have conditioned and limited their consent to arbitration, distinguishing between claimants who have regular investments and claimants who are parties to covered government contracts.[5]

Claimants with regular investments may only challenge measures in breach of Articles 14.4 (national treatment), 14.5 (most-favored nation treatment), and 14.8 (expropriation, excluding indirect expropriation).

Moreover, and importantly, claimants must initiate domestic litigation in the courts of the host state before submitting their claim to arbitration. They can only commence arbitration if there is a final decision of a “court of last resort of the respondent or 30 months have elapsed” after the initiation of the domestic court proceedings. Another noteworthy addition is a four-year statute of limitations for investment-related claims.  This means that investors may have to be quick to bring their claim in the courts in order to make sure they have time to bring their arbitration claim following the 30 month litigation period.

Claimants who are parties to covered government contracts enjoy a broader scope and direct access to arbitration (after a six-month cooling off period). They may challenge measures in breach of the whole Chapter 14. Claims under a covered government contract will be subject to a three-year statute of limitations.

The USMCA defines covered government contracts as “a written agreement between a national authority of [Mexico or the US] and a covered investment or investor of [Mexico or the US], on which the covered investment or investor relies in establishing or acquiring a covered investment other than the written agreement itself, that grants rights to the covered investment or investor in a covered sector.”

covered investment means, with respect to a Party, an investment in its territory of an investor of another Party in existence as of the date of entry into force of this Agreement or established, acquired, or expanded thereafter.


ISDS between Canada and Mexico

Absent from Chapter 14 of USMCA is any provision for Canadian investors in Mexico and Mexican investors in Canada to submit claims to arbitration. In the post-NAFTA era, these investors will necessarily have to pursue claims under the investor-state dispute settlement provisions of the CPTPP (which has also not yet entered into force). The CPTPP, also known as TPP-II, succeeds the Trans-Pacific Partnership which never entered into force after the United States withdrew its support in early 2017. The ISDS provisions under the CPTPP are narrower than those under Chapter 11 of NAFTA. They impose a higher burden of proof on investors to establish breaches of investment obligations and give governments more leeway to implement public welfare measures without giving rise to claims of expropriation.

The CPTPP was signed by 11 countries in March 2018. The agreement will enter into force 60 days after ratification by at least half of the signatories. Mexico was the first country to ratify the agreement, followed by Japan and Singapore. Canada has yet to ratify the agreement.


Entry into Force of the USMCA

The USMCA has yet to be signed but is expected to be signed later this year.  The USMCA remains subject to legal review for accuracy, clarity and consistency. The Parties still need to complete their domestic ratification procedures and other internal procedures required for ratification.  After the all Parties notify the other Parties that ratification has been accomplished, the USMCA will enter into force on the first day of the third month following the last notification.

Until such time as the USMCA enters into force, which could take months or years to accomplish, the NAFTA provisions (including the ISDS provisions) will remain in force.  It is unlikely, if not impossible, that the USMCA can be ratified in the US prior to the mid-term Congressional elections.  It should be expected, therefore, that the ratification of the USMCA will be considered by the incoming US Congress.  In any event, the timing and eventuality of the USMCA entering into force is uncertain.

By Teddy Baldwin


[1] See Bilateraland Regional Trade Agreements, Australian Government ProductivityCommission (November 2010), p. XXXVI (Chapter 14); Report 165: Trans-PacificPartnership Agreement, Australian Joint Standing Committee on Treaties(November 2016), Chapter 6. Venezuela denounced the ICSID Convention in 2012and terminated a bilateral investment with the Netherlands in 2008. See, eg,Luke Eric Peterson, Venezuela Surprises The Netherlands With TerminationNotice For Bit; Treaty Has Been Used By Many Investors To ‘Route’ InvestmentsInto Venezuela, IA Reporter (16 May 2008); Netherlands to terminate BITwith Slovakia in wake of Achmea, Lacey Yong, GAR, (02 May 2018). Indeed,some other countries have terminated or denounced BITs or MITs, however, mostIIAs have sunset or survival clauses which guarantee that the provisions willremain in effect from 5 to 20 years after termination. See generally Denunciationof the ICSID Convention and BITs: Impact on Investor-State Claims, UNCTADIssues Notes No. 2, December 2010, pp. 3-4.

[2] It is alsopossible that one of the Parties could espouse a claim against the other onbehalf of the investor.  But this has almost never occurred in the pastand it does not seem likely that the Parties here will bring such claims onbehalf of their investors.

[3] Seesupra, at n. 1.

[4] ScottSinclair, Canada’s Track Record Under NAFTA Chapter 11 North AmericanInvestor-State Disputes to January 2018, Canadian Centre for PolicyAlternatives, Jan 2018, pp. 1, 4.